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Zim law society united against new Bill
Sunday Tribune (SA)
August 28, 2005

Harare - For the first time Zimbabwe's Law Society has issued a statement signed by all elected members of its council, including those seen as supportive of President Robert Mugabe, condemning constitutional amendments due to become law this week.

The Law Society's nine elected council members put out a statement last week saying that the 22 amendments, particularly those on freedom of movement and property rights were an "undisguised frontal assault" which "fully merits censure". It said that the amendments deprived Zimbabweans of "fundamental rights to own property, secure protection of the law, and freedom of movement for the people who rely on the constitution for protection against state action".

President of the Law Society, Joseph James said yesterday that this was an "auspicious moment" in the history of the organisation. "The statement has every councillor's signature, to prevent any misunderstanding, or any attempt which might arise to suggest the council is divided as has happened in the past. It also prevents any councillor denying they did not support what we have said."

The statement was sent this week to all law and bar associations in Africa and beyond, including South Africa. The condemnation by the Zimbabwe Law Society leaves Zanu-PF isolated from all professional institutions including those which normally stay out of political developments. Even within its own ranks, the debates in parliament last week were poorly attended by Zanu- PF and when the Bill passed through last Tuesday, there was none of the usual ululating from the government benches.

"The Law Society of Zimbabwe urges the government to abandon its moves through the constitutional amendment…and to commence an open, free and fair consultative constitutional review process leading to the enactment of a new constitution," the society said.

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